Don't buy your RAM from Apple -- they were charging huge mark-ups back in the day when they set these prices. Now they haven't updated their prices on RAM in about 9 months and they're just astronomical.
Apple mostly ships their Mac Pro systems with RAM from Mushkin or PNY. You can buy 2GB modules with proper Apple heat spreaders direct from Mushkin for $150 or about $135 from some online resellers. The PNY modules are priced similarly. So figure about $650 to put 8GB in it or about $1300 for the full 16GB. ...Not $4400 for the full 16GB that Apple charges.
Barcelona chips are just now getting proper support chipsets, and are getting out of the OEM test and evaluation period. Initial reports have been meaningless (even though they were negative) due to incomplete chipset support and other initial technical issues. But I think AMD pushed initial evaluations ahead of schedule because they're feeling the crunch. ...Evaluations ahead of schedule within the development process, but Barcelona was over 6 months delayed.
The point is, if you're buying a system today, Intel has the edge. Tomorrow is an entirely different story and AMD could very well leapfrog Intel in the very near future -- as has happened before and as the cycle typically works.
I'm still surprised that it has taken this long for AMD to come up with something new.
As for their 64-core tech, that's future talk and a few years away. Intel has demonstrated a partially functional 80-core sample (huge monsterous beast), but the only thing that really matters is what is shipping now. And both companies, while competing, at least seem to be heading in the same general direction. Both have openly commented that the theoretical core limit is somewhere between 75 and 100 before the returns of multiple cores diminish to nothing. ...Or at least that's the case with current technology. They're also both talking about organic computers as a future tech possibility and multi-dimensional chip structures.
One thing is for certain, CPUs are going to keep getting faster and more powerful. And Intel, AMD and others are going to be continuously fighting for first place.
My advice to anyone on the fence for purchasing a MAC? Wait. The new Intel CPUs have SSE4 which is specifically targeted for video apps and a monster cache which should translate to faster encodes and such. Apple would be seriously daft to not move to those new chips sometime in the near future but when that will happen exactly is anyone's guess as they need a solid stockpile for the Mac Pro.
As for the new AMD chips, it won't be until sometime next year when real world end-user oriented performance information is available. They look like a simple double up of what AMD currently has so who knows what performance will be like. The big problem with AMD chips both current and past is that their cache has been lacking to the point where the word "pathetic" has been tossed around and that is one area in which Intel has kicked the crap out of them with the Core architecture which has contributed to their better performance in current machines. More cache is always going to give you a good performance boost and AMD needs to adopt that into their architecture even if it raises the prices a little bit or lowers yield. AMD's onboard memory controller tech has given good results but it's just not enough to stand up to the Intel Core architecture which is getting faster and more powerful every sixth months while AMD hasn't made any big performance leaps for some time.
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